Thursday, 23 February 2017

First garden visit of the year 2017 and more of my plants

We had the first garden visit of the year and chose possibly one of the worst days we could to visit.  It was cold, drizzly, wet and windy and really not conducive to being out for any length of time, even for hardy gardeners.  However, we braved the weather and went to Brightwater Gardens, which is one of my favourite local gardens.  Some of the snowdrops can be seen in the distance in the top photo, but on that day, even they weren't very keen to be out.
 There is some lovely winter planting with various colours of dogwood stems.
 In better weather, this would have been an enticing walk.
 My hands were shaking, hence the blurry image of the sorbus berries with raindrops.
 The bust of Capability Brown gazes towards the church he is said to have designed.
 You can see the church better in this closer view.
 In winter, you can get a very clear idea of the hard landscaping in a garden and this one has some beautiful areas which add a lot of interest.
One of my favourite parts of the garden is the 'Cathedral Garden' with the pleached trees, hedges and grass.  A lovely calm space, but a bit too cold to linger here for too long on this visit.
 In my own garden, the snowdrops have finally opened to show their patterns.  A bit of warmth and sunshine will do wonders!
 These are in a pot and I will need to divide them once they have finished flowering.
 I have only noticed two double snowdrops this year and this is the one that hadn't been nibbled by something.
 Along with the snowdrops, my winter flowering honeysuckle is doing well and has a beautiful scent of lily of the valley.  Considering that some of the wall collapsed on it and it needed some remedial pruning, it has survived remarkably well.
 More snowdrops. (They have probably been a bit battered by Storm Doris by now!)
The violas I planted last autumn greet me with their cheerful faces whenever I go in or out.  They make me smile.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Send a Little Love Swap 2017

I have just taken part in Tracy (at Mad About Bags') 'Send a Little Love' swap 2017.  I have taken part in this swap for several years and always enjoy it.  This year I was partnered up with Pilar from Cenefas de Flores who is from Barcelona.  We were given some guidelines with this swap:
"The idea of this swap is to send 5 things to include :
Some sewing or yarny notions that have a love theme
Something heart shaped or themed
Something deliciously edible
Something handmade
Something red "
So, we emailed and looked at each other's blogs, as usual, to pick up some clues and then we got making and swapping.  My parcel from Spain arrived and it was the hardest thing not to peek before grand opening day, although I did manage to leave it alone until then.  As you can see from the top photo, I had been sent the most beautifully packaged gifts.  I loved the floral tissue paper with the labels.
Here's what was inside...wow!  There was ribbon, lip balm, heart shaped decorations, rose scented flower petals, violet flavoured sweets, heart shaped buttons, pompoms, red flower linen material, two beautifully made cross stitched pin cushions/decorations, a fridge magnet and two recipes.
 I was, yet again, extremely lucky.
 She had been so generous.
 Aren't these absolutely stunning? I found out that the little black cat was inspired by Scruffy.
The wooden decorations will be added to my seasonal tree stash.  Thank you Pilar (she has put her post up about the swap too) at Cenefas de Flores so much for all the lovely gifts - they are fantastic - you were an amazing swap partner. 
So here's what I sent to her.  The heart swap things are on the left, including heart bunting, heart cutters, love heart sweets, heart ribbon and washi tape, a felt heart (of course), a heart mug and a polymer clay and gemstone bookmark.  On the right are the extras, a UK cross stitch magazine, some pearl earrings and some wooden pegs.
 Here's the heart things...
...and the extras.  I did wrap them in heart wrapping paper, but forgot to take a photo before I packaged it all up.  Thanks to my lovely swap partner and also to Tracy for doing the organising. 
Scruffy enjoyed playing in the wrapping paper, but of course he moved when he saw the camera and although he does actually have his eyes open in this photo (amazingly), he is studiously ignoring looking at the camera.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Knights in progress

Back in 2015, Lincoln hosted some visitors - brightly painted Baron sculptures - to commemorate the Magna Carta.  You can see my posts about them here and here.  The figures were very popular and a boost to tourism for the city. This year, to commemorate the Charter of the Forest and the Battle of Lincoln Fair, there will be another trail, but this time, it's the Knights Trail, which you can find out all about here.  The design for the figures was based on a chess piece and a competition was held to design a Knight.  Our friend Rachael (a really talented artist - she got a First in illustration) created a design and as soon as I saw it, I had a feeling it would be picked...I was right! She is now in the process of bringing her design to life.
She made a start on the horse's nose, covering it with hearts.
 Then she really got going.
 He's going to look amazing!
 I love the cakes...but then, I would!
 He is so bright and colourful.
She is doing a fantastic job, isn't she?  Her particular knight is getting a lot of attention, and children seem to be especially drawn to it.  I also have an idea where I think he will be situated - wouldn't that be spooky if I'm right?  I can see him being extremely popular for photographs too.  
Here are a couple of other artists' designs in progress.  These are being painted in the shopping centre, so I shall be going along again at the weekend to see how they are all coming along.
I shall look forward to seeing them all around the city in the summer.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Snowdrop progress and a blue sky

 As yesterday was such a beautiful day, I thought I would go out and check on the snowdrops.  There was sunshine and a lovely blue sky (something we haven't seen too much of this dull and grey winter).
 Definite progress made now, but still not open flowers.
 I think they were all from my Mum's garden.  They are quite tall with large flowers, but I don't know the variety.

 Nearly open...just a bit more sunshine needed, I think.
Again, I'm not sure which variety this is.  I did have some galanthus elwesii, but that has thicker leaves than this one.  As I have said many times before, snowdrops are one of my favourite plants.  Their delicate and elegant form belies their toughness.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Finally making felt again

I have been finally getting round to making felt again and it is lovely!  I had forgotten how much I enjoy it.  It takes me two hours to make two pieces but I really enjoy creating the blends and deciding what colours I need to use.  I have reserved a table at a craft fair in November, so that has given me the push I need to start making again.  In the whole of last year, I think I made two pieces in total, so I am doing much better this year.  The stripy pieces are destined for the craft fair, but you'll have to wait until then to see what I make them into.  I am also going to make some other coloured pieces - pink and a pastel green and whatever else takes my fancy.
I now need to replenish my stock of white wool for the base pieces...it's a good job I have just been paid!

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Cheerful things

 In a rather dull and grey winter, it is always cheering to see signs of growth and the promise of Spring.  While winter can be lovely when it gives blue skies and wintry sunshine, the dull days can seem very long.  I was in the garden and noticed the snowdrops starting to poke their heads up. It won't be long before they are in flower.
 Another little clump in the garden.
 A very welcome splash of yellow is provided by winter flowering jasmine, with its straggly stems.  The flowers do make up for its untidy habit.
I also found the noses of one of my patio peonies (I think this one is 'Athens') with the promise of beautiful flowers in late Spring/Early Summer.  This is a really encouraging sight.
I have also just bought a rhododendron 'Tinkerbird' which is meant to be happy in a pot as it is a dwarf variety.  It is supposed to be very hardy, having been bred in Scotland and is also said to have a jasmine scent in May.  My plant is looking healthy and has lots of buds.  I will let you know how I get on with it.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Latest Reading

My latest reading has been a little eclectic, but then that seems to be par for the course.  Before Christmas I started on a couple of Miss Marple books on my Kindle - Nemesis and Sleeping Murder - partly because the Joan Hickson adaptations were being shown, so I wanted to read the originals and because those are my favourites so far. Joan Hickson was perfect casting for Miss Marple, right down to her twinkling eyes!  Since Christmas, I have continued with The Murder at the Vicarage, The Thirteen Problems, The Body in the Library, The Moving Finger and A Murder is Announced.  Although I had some inklings about who the murderer might be each time, (I was usually wrong) Mrs Christie managed to bamboozle me and I missed lots of clues. On my Kindle at the moment is Pride and Prejudice.
However, I have also got 'real' books which I have either started or am going to.  I usually have a few on the go at any one time.
So, in the photo, there is Nella Last's War (the Mass Observation Exercise diary kept by Nella Last and which Victoria Wood dramatised in 'Housewife, 49').  This brings home the way life had to go on during the Second World War, with rationing and managing on very little.
There is also The Invisible Woman which I was inspired to read following a film of the same name which I watched last year.  This is the story of Ellen Ternan and her family; she was involved with Charles Dickens but was 'invisible' to society.  So far, it is fascinating and presents an interesting picture of the lives of Victorian actresses and how they were thought of/treated.
('To Walk Invisible' photo from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/)
The Brontes is a very good biography of the whole family which I bought back in 1995 and have read several times.  I watched 'To Walk Invisible' over Christmas which I really enjoyed and this made me want to read the biography again. (It is still available on iplayer for the next thirteen days to watch if you are in the UK).  'To Walk Invisible' was a dramatisation of the adult lives of the Brontes, following Branwell's downfall and the sisters' fame beginning to spread.  It was beautifully acted and set and Haworth looked just as I imagined it should.
Finally for now, there is The Mitford Girls which Mum bought me for Christmas.  I haven't started it yet but have looked at the photos.  With their connections, it should prove to be a fascinating story.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

A Frosty (but magical) Start

It has been quite frosty recently and some of the plants in the garden looked quite photogenic with a sprinkling of sparkle.  Above is a rose.
 The flower heads of an aster looked as though they had been dusted with icing sugar.
The two Blueberries, Blue Pearl, are hanging on to their leaves.
 A miscanthus looked ethereal with its flowers highlighted.
I have mislaid the label for this one, so am not sure which it is (Ferner Osten? Kleine Fontane?), but it stands beautifully upright.
 Hydrangea arborescens Annabelle looks lovely most of the time...
...in winter, the flower heads show lovely variations in tones of sepia...
...and look almost magical with the frost on them.